top of page
  • Writer's pictureacoachsdiary

The Most Important Characteristic

A coach recently asked me, "What are the most important characteristics that a high school or college athlete should have?"

I told him I preach two things to my kids and athletes: work hard and have fun.

I told him that I hope my kids have two characteristics: a competitive spirit and joy.

If they are willing to compete, they will continue to get better. If they have joy and enjoy what they do, they will keep doing it and keep getting better.

But my kids are 8, 10, and 12, and they FIGHT with each other! They definitely received the message about having a competitive spirit, but they often take it too far. They are each other's biggest and greatest competitors, and being their in-house referee all day, every day, is draining.

So now, I am adding a third characteristic: be great teammates and great people.

Can you compete at the highest level while being a good person? I think this is the only way to do it. Coach K, the legendary coach at Duke, said the best advice he has ever received was from his mom. When he was 14 years old, his mom said, "Make sure you get on the right bus – the bus you are going to drive for the rest of your life. Only put good people on your bus, and only get on a bus that is driven by a good person. You will never accomplish what you want by doing it alone – you will accomplish a heck of a lot more by doing it with great people."

If you want to be great, you have to be insanely competitive, and you have to enjoy what you do. But you also go a lot farther when you don't go alone. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and good people want to spend time with good people.

While you are working hard trying to be great, focus on being just as good of a person as you are a competitor.

Here is an interview tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams did years ago where they talked about what it is like competing against each other:


1 - Who do you want your kids to be and what kind of life do you hope they live?

2 - What are the character skills they will need to have to become the person you hope they become?

3 - What is your role in this process?

152 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page